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Daily Kickoff: Trump admin quietly rushes to fund Palestinian programs before Taylor Force Act is enacted | Watch Conan in Israel | Shana Tova!

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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning this evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and wonderful New Year! We’ll be back next week. 

JI EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration quietly transfers $20M to Palestinian programs — by Aaron Magid: The Trump administration has quietly directed an additional $20 million towards projects that would ‘directly benefit’ the Palestinian Authority, three Capitol Hill sources told Jewish Insider. “It means that the Trump administration is trying to get money out of the door before Taylor Force (Act) goes into effect,” a Congressional aide explained. In August, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld $30 million of economic aid from Egypt, citing Cairo’s harsh restrictions on human rights organizations. Congressional staffers asked the administration about the reprogramming of this funding and were told that $20 million of the sum would be spent on West Bank and Gaza programs that would “directly benefit” the P.A. [JewishInsider]

2024 WATCH — Haley passes ‘Shana Tova’ test: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, US Ambassador Nikki Haley and ambassadors from other countries participated in a Shana Tova video produced by Israel’s mission. “Happy New Year to all of our friends, whether it’s in the United States, Israel or around the globe. Shana Tova. We wish you all the best, in health, happiness and peace. God bless,” Ambassador Haley said in her video message. [Video]

Vice President Mike Pence on the Jewish High Holy Days: “The most important word during this most important period of the Jewish year is “Teshuvah,” or Repentance. Teshuva tells us we can change. It tells us that what we have been until this moment need not limit what we can become from this moment. It says we can be better tomorrow than we were today, and that in the affairs of humankind, nothing is fixed. Of all the manifold gifts bestowed upon us by the Almighty, is there any gift greater than the power He gave us to change?”

DRIVING THE DAY: “As the Clintons Step Back From Global Stage, Bloomberg Steps Up” by Shane Goldmacher: “[Mike] Bloomberg [is hosting] a reorganized and rebranded Bloomberg Global Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, drawing a high-powered crowd and speakers from Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, to President Emmanuel Macron of France. In a symbolic passing of the guard, [Bill] Clinton [was] the first speaker on the day’s agenda almost exactly a year after he urged attendees “you have to keep this alive” in a farewell address at the last Clinton Global Initiative. “He doesn’t just happen to be the first speaker,” said Kevin Sheekey, one of Mr. Bloomberg’s top advisers…. “There is a bit of a handoff.” The speaker and panelist list is impressive and wide-ranging.” [NYTimes• Watch the livestream[Bloomberg]

“The US Government In Exile Has A New President” by Ben Smith: “The former New York mayor is inheriting not a conference, but a platform for an alternative American diplomacy… “Nations are bound together by trade and investment, and while chief executives are not diplomats, they can be voices for cooperation on issues where the private sector can be constructive — from infrastructure to climate change,” [Bloomberg] said in an emailed comment Tuesday. “Actions taken by the private sector, while not replacing official diplomatic channels, can often carry more weight than words spoken (or tweeted) by public officials.” … Bloomberg’s new stage is a sign that on the issues on which he’s already begun to dog Trump — climate change, in particular — the former mayor is likely just getting started.” [BuzzFeed

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Anxious world lobbies Trump on Iran nuclear deal” by Nahal Toosi: “Former aides to President Barack Obama are growing increasingly worried that Trump will reject the advice of some of this top advisers and declare Tehran in violation of the agreement… That would open the door Congress to reimpose sanctions that many experts say could provoke Iran to restart its nuclear program… “We have an unmoored flame-thrower in the Oval Office who acts more out of spite and reprisal than principle,” said Ned Price, a former Obama National Security Council spokesman who helped make the official case for the nuclear deal… Arab countries hostile to Iran have mostly been quiet on the subject… “It’s not high on our list” of things to discuss with the administration, one Arab official said…”

“Trump has at least one prominent defender: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… “That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it,” Netanyahu said. Caught between competing arguments, some analysts think Trump might look once again to his favorite foil: Obama. “It’s his own internal logic chain,” said Aaron David Miller… “It all starts from his prime directive, which is to dismantle everything that his predecessor has done.” [Politico

“Netanyahu pitches his UN address to one man: Donald Trump” by Nicole Gaouette: “Netanyahu “had an audience of one,” said David Makovsky, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He sees a chance to somehow either jettison the agreement or more vigorously enforce it. And that could be where they end up.”” [CNN

TRUMP TAKES NOTE: “With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.” by Peter Baker and Rick Gladstone: “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Mr. Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.” The tough words cheered the delegation from Israel, whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, applauded from the gallery and called it the boldest speech he had heard at the United Nations in 30 years. In his own address later, he said Mr. Trump had “rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran an embarrassment” and pointed to North Korea as an example.” [NYTimes Twitter Trump and Teleprompter Trump merge on global stage [Politico]

Ben Rhodes‏: “Trump threatened to kill 25 million people and 10s of thousands of Americans at UN. Mooch and Spicey are interesting stars! Bibi loves it!” [Twitter]

Closing ranks with Israel, Tillerson takes aim at ‘sunset clause’ in nuclear deal: “If we’re going to stick with the Iran deal there has to be changes made to it. The sunset provisions simply is not a sensible way forward,” Tillerson said [on Fox News]. “It’s just simply … kicking the can down the road again for someone in the future to have to deal with.” [YnetFoxNews]

“GOP foreign affairs chair Ed Royce: US should stay in Iran deal, ‘enforce the hell out of’ it” by Eli Watkins: “I think we should enforce the hell out of the agreement and thereby force compliance on the part of Iran,” Royce, a California Republican, said in an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” … Royce said he believed Iran was “violating the spirit of the agreement,” but he said the lifting of sanctions under the Iran deal meant the US lost a considerable amount of leverage that went directly to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. “They now have this money,” Royce said. “And so in a way, the toothpaste is out of the tube.” [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Chris Christie at the UANI summit at The Roosevelt: “I would be very surprised if he does not decertify the JCPOA… I am just telling you that I know the guy for the last 15 years and if I had to guess, that’s my guess of what’s going to happen – because of what I’ve heard him say during the campaign and what I think he believes philosophically, which is: a bad deal is worse than no deal.”

Jeb Bush at a panel with former Governor Bill Richardson: “I think once in awhile, the chaotic nature of the President is helpful… North Korea is a rogue nation, Iran is a rogue nation… These are regimes that need to be called out, and President Trump is pretty good at it. But what’s lacking, perhaps, is a consistent, coherent policy to back that up.”

Richardson: “If Iran is complying… I think we should retain that… Side agreements are still worth doing. But if we pull out, we are not going to get nothing.”

Richardson on the U.S -Israel relationship: “One thing I do like about the president’s policy – it seems that our relationship with Israel is back on track. That’s fundamental. Although, Prime Minister Netanyahu — I have always liked him, but there he goes and endorses an issue important to me – that I don’t like – and that’s the wall with Mexico. Why is he endorsing the wall with Mexico because he wants to please Trump? I want Prime Minister Netanyahu to know there is a Democratic Party in the U.S. that should not be ignored.”

Jeb jokes: “Does he want Mexico to pay for it, Governor?”

HOW IT PLAYED: “New York crowd gets glimpse of President Jeb(!)” by Katie Glueck: “A bespectacled Bush… was relaxed and genial during much of his appearance… He showed up to assess the Trump administration’s foreign policy so far… “Generally, in the post-World War II era, there’s been a broader [foreign policy] consensus,” he said. “I think President Trump, with his foreign policy team intact, is moving in that direction. I may be wrong, his impulses contradict that from time to time, but I can tell all the people analyzing the tweets…I would follow more what we’re doing rather than what he says.” On the campaign trail, Bush once plaintively encouraged an audience to “please clap.” And in response to that assessment of the current president, there came a smattering of applause.” [McCaltchyDC] • Donald Trump wasn’t the only politician who gave a foreign policy speech today[TampaBayTimes]

HEARD TODAY — Trump ahead of meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “Israel is working very hard toward the same goal… So we will see if we can put it together. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. But I think we have a good chance (for peace).” [Video

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Muzin’s work for Qatar raises eyebrows” by Theodoric Meyer: “The relatively small world of Jewish Republicans in Washington hasn’t been able to stop talking about Nick Muzin… Muzin’s decision to work for Qatar was the talk of Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Rosh Hashanah party last week, according to three sources present, as well as the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Washington the next day. “His name was on everybody’s lips,” one source said. “Everybody was talking about it.” — There were “three main areas of puzzlement about Muzin” at the Dermer party, according to another attendee: Why “he would work for a client as grotesque as Qatar”; how he intended to sell Jewish leaders on meeting with Qatar, which has been accused of funding the Palestinian group Hamas; and why he wasn’t getting paid more for such controversial work.” [Politico

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is organizing a protest outside the Qatari embassy in Washington, DC next Thursday to “demand the Qatari government use its influence over the terrorist group Hamas to unconditionally and immediately return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul.”

“Trump Warned Saudis Off Military Move on Qatar” by Jennifer Jacobs: “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates considered military action in the early stages of their ongoing dispute with Qatar before Donald Trump called leaders of both countries and warned them to back off… Trump, who initially sided with the Saudi-led bloc, had a change of heart because of evidence that a prolonged dispute with Qatar will serve as an advantage to Iran… Trump met with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday… Trump confronted the Qatari leader with what one U.S. official said is evidence that Qatar is still engaged in terrorism-related activity and told him it has to stop.” [Bloomberg]

ON THE HILL — Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday introduced the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which would make houses of worship eligible for FEMA Public Assistance program grants. Under the Stafford Act, houses of worship are ineligible for FEMA grants for the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of private nonprofit facilities. “Religious non-profit organizations, including churches, synagogues… and community centers should not be excluded from federal disaster assistance just because they are faith-based,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Bernie Sanders, Jewish Senate Colleagues Blast Netanyahu for Blocking Equality Among Israeli Jews” by Judy Maltz and Amir Tibon: “The seven Democratic senators are Ron Wyden (Oregon), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Dianne Feinstein (California), Al Franken (Minnesota), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Sanders (Vermont). “We fear actions like the conversion bill and the suspension of the Kotel agreement will strain the unique relationship between our two nations, particularly if the majority of American Jews see the movements to which they are committed denied equal rights in Israel,” the senators wrote. “Given all the challenges Israel faces on the international state, we urge you not to alienate committed Zionists.”” [Haaretz]

“Ellison compares illegal immigrants to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany” by Josh Delk: “Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is comparing giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to giving shelter to Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. “And if you ask yourself ‘What would I do if I was a gentile in 1941, if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?'” Ellison said Monday in comments on President Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”[TheHill]

Ambassador David Friedman on Charlottesville: “I’m not saying there’s no anti-Semitism, but nothing close to what has been in the news lately. I haven’t studied it, but from my own experience, the hard-core anti-Semites that you see on television, the real ugly ones, are a tiny tiny tiny minority of the U.S. population… Anti-Semitism from the right – neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan – that’s ugly, it’s unacceptable, and almost everyone who sees it immediately recoils from it. They say it’s horrible. Anti-Semitism from the left has been cleverly repackaged as anti-Israelism. That’s something that you can discuss at a cocktail party in Manhattan or Beverly Hills and no one will throw you out of the room. You can talk about how Israel is becoming an apartheid state and how Israel shouldn’t really exist, and it is much more acceptable because at first it doesn’t sound like the Ku Klux Klan, it sounds like an intellectual argument.” [IsraelHayom]

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Michael Wright Exiting As Amblin Partners CEO; Steven Spielberg Takes Reins [Deadline] • Sony Pictures Classics Buys ‘Foxtrot,’ Israel’s Ophir Winner and Oscar Entry [IndieWire] • Bond King Bill Gross Falls to the Middle of the Pack [Bloomberg• Adelson, Wynn make Forbes list of top business minds [ReviewJournalForbes] • Billionaire Warren Buffett sings a duet with Stevie Wonder at star-studded Forbes 100th anniversary [DailyMail] • NYPost: Jann Wenner really blew it with Rolling Stone [NYPost]

LISTS, LISTS, LISTS — JPost announces “50 Influential Jews Of 2017.” Jared and Ivanka are 1, Gal Gadot at 2, and Israeli PM Netanyahu at 3. Interesting pick: Disney CEO Bob Iger at 9. [JPost] • The Algemeiner’s Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life [Algemeiner]

STARTUP NATION: “Augmedics is building augmented reality glasses for spinal surgery” by Romain Dillet: “Meet Augmedics, an Israeli startup working on augmented reality headsets for surgeons performing spinal surgery. Instead of making you look away from your patient, the device acts as a heads up display and gives you greatly enhanced perception.” [TechCrunch]

“A D.C. rabbi enlists some comic book collaborators for a blessed project” by John Kelly: “Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld… knew exactly where to turn: Brian [Ash], a classmate from his Yeshiva high school in the Bronx who used to sit at the back of class drawing caricatures of rabbis. Brian brought in Yehudi [Mercado] and the trio perfected the game… The game is called AlefBlessed… The back of each card contains textual references to the blessing in question. Ohev Sholom gives packs of the cards to its young members and sells them online. “When I printed 50,000, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Herzfeld said. “We’re almost out of them. I’m getting calls from rabbis around the world: ‘Please ship me some AlefBlessed cards.’ I’ve been contacted by two Judaica distributors who want to sell it.”” [WashPost]

Conan Meets With Refugees, Chats With Gal Gadot in Israel Special: “Speaking to some pedestrians, the host asks what the Israeli attitude is towards President Trump. “It’s a good show for us,” one of them replies. “Did you know that the president’s son-in-law is working very hard on making a peace plan [for the Middle East]. Jared Kushner has been studying very hard on the issue of Middle East peace,” O’Brien explained to the group, before pulling out a copy of the book Middle East Peace for Dummies and proclaiming that Kushner “read two pages and got confused and went home.” … At one point, O’Brien says that [Gal] Gadot is “the whole reason” he came to Israel, before excitedly knocking on the star’s door. Although he can’t contain his enthusiasm, Gadot seems less interested.” [THR Conan O’Brien’s Trip To Israel Was Hilarious — And Heartbreaking [HuffPost

“Evangelical Christians Head to Jerusalem to Rally Behind Israel” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Thousands will pour in from more than 80 countries to the streets of Jerusalem in early October for an annual march celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Jewish festival of Sukkot… “After the elections, being pro-Israel became a part of the establishment, rather than part of the opposition,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz… “I do believe that this year’s increase in tourism and overall growth in charitable giving can be partially attributed to the fact that the Trump administration is seen to be extremely pro-Israel.” Although some fundraisers haven’t seen a Trump-related uptick in donations, Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, saw the U.S. president’s May visit as a peerless opportunity to recruit Christian support.”[Bloomberg]

“You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Celebrate Rosh Hashana” by Bari Weiss: “The morning of Jan. 1 is when the counting of calories recommences: We join Weight Watchers; we splurge on gym memberships. Rosh Hashana requires a deeper kind of counting. That process is called “heshbon hanefesh,” literally an “accounting of the soul.” The stocktaking requires serious reflection on the past year… The remembering is not just a private act: We are required to ask for forgiveness for those we have hurt during the past year. Some rely on mass emails, but we are meant to be as specific as possible, to make the apologies personal and precise. It’s like the ninth step of A.A. But every year.” [NYTimes]

“As building booms in Chelsea area, rabbis hope for Jewish renaissance” by Laura Crimaldi: “Walking in Chelsea’s waterfront one day, [Rabbi Sruli] Baron said an older man in a car pulled up beside him, slammed on the brakes, and rolled down the window. “What’s your name? What are you doing here?” the man asked. “I can’t remember the last time I saw an Orthodox Jew walking around Chelsea.” That history, Baron said, holds great promise for the Jewish community’s future in the area. “It’s just fascinating to imagine that so much Jewish life was here,” he said. “The history allows us to envision in real, practical ways the rich future that the community could have.””[BostonGlobe]

BIRTHDAYS: After a 40 year career at the New York Times, he founded The Hill and then helped launch Politico, journalist and author Martin Tolchinturns 89… Florida real estate developer who acquired 785 acres of mostly swamp land in South Florida for $6 million in 1967 and converted it to Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer turns 85… Author, television personality and philanthropist, she is the widow of Aaron Spelling, Carole Gene “Candy” Spelling turns 72… Long-time SVP at Booz-Allen after a career than included two White House staff positions, former CEO of Special Olympics International, Bruce Pasternack turns 70… Engineer, inventor, philanthropist, co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli turns 63… Rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia and the founder and director of Outreach Judaism, a counter-missionary organization, Rabbi Tovia Singer turns 57…

Civil rights attorney, author and legal analyst on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC, Lisa Bloom turns 56… Founder of PFAP Consulting, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ph.D. turns 35… National security, homeland security and foreign policy advisor to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Mazol turns 31… Associate director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously a political assistant at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Emily Grunewald turns 30… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, she was a summer associate at New Enterprise Associates during 2017, Alison Bogdonoff turns 28… OneTable’s Zoe Plotsky turns 25… Manhattan resident, Isabel Tsesarsky turns 23… Bloomberg LP’s legal reporter, Drew Singer… Membership manager of the Sacramento-based California Solar Energy Industries Association, Carter Lavin (h/t Playbook)… Lauren Ackerman

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